4 ways to juggle between school and work
The first taste of adulthood doesn’t have to be too challenging.
Rushing back home to complete an assignment after finishing your part-time shift is something many students have been through. I certainly have.
Making the decision to take up a part-time job while schooling is a big one. There are pros and cons to consider, but sometimes we don’t have a choice.
When I first started polytechnic at 17, my mother encouraged me to juggle a job to ease her financial burdens. To her, a job meant that I would be wiser with my spending habits and learn the value of hard-earned money, and I also felt it would make me more independent.
Throughout my polytechnic years, I worked in F&B and retail industries, and was even a private tutor for a while.
Looking back at the experience, here are some lessons that I, and fellow youths who juggled part-time work with their studies, would like to share with those just starting out.
1. Practice proper scheduling habits
Juggling school and work means that you would have so many things on your mind. Hence, it’s best to keep track of your assignment deadlines, exams and outing dates on a planner or an app like CountOnly that provides you a countdown to those dates.
Other than keeping track of important dates, you could also come up with a weekly timetable to monitor when are your working days, and allocate time for school related activities.
Haneef Raihan, 17, works as a waiter at a restaurant while studying at the Institute of Technical Education College East. He keeps track of his work by having a fixed schedule of working days every week.
“I need to ensure that I won’t feel tired while juggling my school and my part-time job. In order to do that, I ensure that I do not over-work myself by only working on weekends,” he said.
2. Know when you need to cut back on work for your studies
School can get busy, especially around assignment deadlines and exams.
That is when it is wise to work less and manage your time better. Plan ahead and speak to your manager about the periods where you are going to need to work less due to your study commitments.
Exams are not the only reason that might make you consider cutting back on work. If you feel your working environment is negatively affecting your mental and physical well-being, then it might be time to consider changing jobs or taking a break from part time work altogether.
“In my opinion, your studies should always come first as your main role is a student… If you are unable to commit to a part-time job due to your school schedule, it is definitely more advisable that you quit your job than to quit your school commitment,” said Lee Shiwen, 19, a student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic who worked as a private tutor and a camera assistant for livestream events.
3. Maintain a social life
Splitting your time between work and school means that you would have less time to spend with friends and family.
I especially felt left out when my friends and family made plans the day before and I couldn’t come along as I was scheduled to work.
This is when I learnt to discuss with my loved ones to make plans in advance to ensure that the outings do not clash with my working days. Thankfully they were happy to accomodate, and most of our plans and dates could work out.
Similarly, youths like Hanie Anisa, 19, had understanding friends who were willing to support her work timings.
“I communicate with my friends and remind them to plan an outing date a week in advance, before submitting my preferred shifts,” said the part time barista and student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
4. Overcome burnout with self care
There is no way to sugarcoat the fact that juggling between work and school will have its obstacles.
There may be days where you don’t have the motivation to do either, probably because you are too burnt out.
Different people have different ways to overcome burnouts. For me, I will first make sure that I get more rest. This means going to bed earlier than usual and cutting down on screen time.
Some alone time would also be good for you. There is nothing wrong with doing things alone like shopping, getting ice cream or just walking around town aimlessly.
You could also take time to go for jogs or do other exercises to feel the energy coming back to you.
Being more financially stable during your schooling years has so many benefits. You can rely less on your parents and even pamper yourself more. Furthermore, it’s a nice feeling knowing that you worked hard for the money.
However, If things are too much to handle, it may be a good idea to take a break until you think you are ready to start working again.
It may be financially hard for you, but discuss with your parents about the next few steps. Financial help for students is also available through their schools or other community organisations like Mendaki, SINDA and even MOE-based bursaries.
Success takes sacrifice and commitment. Your schooling years aren’t forever, so if you’re splitting your time between school and work, hang in there!